Sunday, May 27, 2012

How Can You Build This Overnight?

Charlotte is a city that is rushing to have everything.  The vision of Hugh McColl of Charlotte becoming a 24 hour a day city was a bold vision, and one that is actually happening.  Pedestrian traffic on the downtown streets is heavier than it has ever been, and that is steadily increasing.

People from all over continue to move to Charlotte and call it home.  Current estimates point to our employment levels approaching the high water mark of 2008, certainly a sign that we are recoving. 

A goal that Charlotte has, lead by Center City Partners, is to develop a Public Market on Seventh Street at the site of the former Reid's downtown.  Rushed to open in December of 2011 due to contractual obligations, the market has seen some modest, very modest, success. A new Grand Opening took place a few weeks ago, complete with events, new merchants, and great food.

Cleveland's West Side Market
But the problem remains how do you instill a habit into a population that has other habits?

As Charlotte is made up of a lot of people from all over, many of us have visions of what the market should look like.  My particular vision is from Cleveland's West Side Market.  I recently came across an article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer (go here for the article) celebrating the 100th year of operation.

The article contains pictures and statistics and graphs and simulated models and stories from  the patrons and vendors over the years.  One can't help but read the article and want to be there. Every trip I make to Cleveland includes a trip to the West Side Market.

The point of this article is to show that they have a 100 year head start on us.  They have had their good times and bad times.  They have seen their neighborhood change several times, and they have had 100 years to develop it. 

My hopes are that 100 years from now someone will be talking about our Public Market in the same light.  The key to making that happen is to go to the market and patronize it.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Welcome To The Neighborhood

The news on the street is that Childress Klein has drawn construction permits to begin an apartment project next to The Catalyst on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.  This originally was a site that Novare, the developer of The Catalyst, had planned a 39 story condo/hotel project before the recession.

Planned Childress Klein Apartments
The Catalyst, from all information I can gather, is a rented out building.  I have worked with several rental clients recently that indicated that they could not get into the building.

This new project will be more modest, 21 stories 392 units, all apartments.  The location of this building puts it on the west end of Romare Bearden Park, and effectively sitting at the foot of Poplar Street as you walk south from the Fourth Ward.  It should be a stunning site.

It will also sit just off  the right field stands of the proposed Knights Stadium.  The importance of this is that it will underscore the growing contributions to the tax base that will be energized by the construction of the stadium.  This increase in tax revenue will encourage the Charlotte City Council to reexamine the request for assistance from the Charlotte Knights.

Considering that 5 years ago, the only activity that took place in this section of downtown was 9 to 5 parking during the week, and about 10 tailgate parties for football games at BankofAmerica Stadium.  Now there will be more than 1,000 people living there full time.

Those numbers will attract merchants, most notably restaurants and bars.  But it will also start to peak the interest of hard and soft good merchants to reconsider a downtown location.

As Pink Floyd said best, "All in all it's just another brick in The Wall".

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The VUE Is Out Of MLS

In the next stage of the saga that is The VUE, all listing have been pulled from the Multiple Listing Service that Realtors use to look for properties.  This normally means one of two things; the project is being repriced; the project is being converted into rentals.  Here are my thoughts on both.

Repricing.  Without having exact numbers to work with, I have made some estimates to use for projections.  Assuming there are 408 units in the building, and assuming a number of units at similar sizes, and assuming that the new owner did in fact secure the debt for $100,000,000, my math tells me that the purchase price by the new owner is around $220 per square foot.  It would not be inconceivable that the new for sale price could be in the $300 per sq ft range, down from the initial $535 per sq ft.

Please remember these projections are based on assumptions that are probable, but not confirmed. 

Rental.  It is a hot rental market, and the new owner could certainly price the units at market rates and do very well.  Current rental availability in downtown Charlotte is pretty low, and the units available either lack amenities, or professional ownership. 

My projection for a final decision is mid June.

Should the new owner decide on selling the units, I believe there would be a rush on the building.  The immediate effect would be to put a damper on other resale activity in the downtown market, certainly during the first few months, perhaps even through to the 1st quarter of 2013, but the building would fill in fast.

Should the new owner decide on rentals, again I believe there would be a rush on the building, but not as intense. 

In either event, the sudden onslaught of people into the Fourth Ward of downtown Charlotte will have a serious impact on city living.  Additionally, lights on in the building for the DNC will make for some dramatic TV shots. 

Whatever the outcome, the near term impact of this building is about to be felt.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Big Deal For Charlotte

Example of a Multi Modal Facility
Charlotte is lucky to have Jerry Orr!

He is legendary for his almost dictatorial control over the operations of the Charlotte Douglass International Airport.  He is to the airport what Hugh McColl is to city building.

Today, the Charlotte Observer printed this story about the beginning of construction of a multi-modal facility located between two runways at the airport.  It is something that many of us will hardly notice as it is far from the public view.  The construction will take several years, and when it is completed, Charlotte will have a state of the art distribution yard that can mix rail, ship, truck and air cargo.

I have written elsewhere concerning the widening of the Panama Canal, and the implications of the markets on the East Coast that will now have direct access to shipments from Asia.  Charlotte stands to directly benefit from that.

Charlotte also is within 600 miles of the majority of East Coast populations centers.

This facility will also serve to create jobs and expand growth in a non-financial industry, further broadening our employment base.  It will serve as a catalyst to companies looking to relocate headquarters and businesses here.

On a more one on one basis, the relocation of the shipping facility from its current location on North Tryon covering about 40 acres just north of downtown will open that area for future growth.  This acreage will sit on the LYNX Light Rail expansion to the University area.

It will also eliminate hundreds of tractor trailer trips through the downtown area, lessening the wear and tear on our roads, and making the city more pedestrian friendly.

Jerry Orr is not the only person who made this possible, but his single focused management of the airport has kept its operations separate from city involvement. 

Thanks Jerry.